5 of the Most Popular Dairy Products in Kyrgyzstan

Dairy products

The first time I sat down with a nomadic family for dinner, I lost count of how many dairy products were on the table. I couldn’t believe it!  There was cream, kurut, fresh butter, kymyz, fresh milk for tea, and the list goes on. Looking back, I don’t know why it surprised me so much though. It makes perfect sense - herding culture equals access to lots of milk. I’m just glad I’m not lactose intolerant!

Share this with friends:

Since a nomadic lifestyle is the backbone of Kyrgyz culture, it influences much of the cuisine in Kyrgyzstan. Travelers making their way through the country will notice this in the massive amounts of dairy products they find available. Here are some of the most popular:



The national drink in Kyrgyzstan is slightly fermented mare’s milk called kymyz. Kymyz is served to guests in yurt camps to show hospitality. Even if you only stop by to visit someone in their yurt camp for a moment, expect a nice big bowl of kymyz before you leave. Kymyz is also known for its positive health effects; people go on straight kymyz diets for weeks which are said to clean out your system. You can buy fresh kymyz from May to August. People sell it in bottles other times of the year as well, but it’s not as good. 


Jarma is a beverage made from ground cereals. You boil the ground cereal in water, let it cool, and mix it with ayran, a yogurt beverage with salt added to it. The resulting drink comes out slightly fizzy.



Chalap is another popular dairy-based beverage in Kyrgyzstan. It’s made of qatiq (a thick, fermented milk drink), salt, and carbonated water. The first time I drank chalap, the closest thing I could liken it to was liquefied smoked cheese. 



Kurut is a dried, salty, milk-based snack. Basically, you take sour milk/yogurt, strain it, let the strained portion dry, and roll it into balls of varying sizes. In Kyrgyzstan, you’ll find people selling kurut on the side of the road fairly regularly. They’re cheap and make a great snack. 



Kaimak is basically fresh, thick cream.  This is one of my favorite foods in Kyrgyzstan!  Personally, I prefer scooping it up with some fresh borsok (fried balls of dough) and then dipping it all in some syrupy homemade jam. It doesn’t get much better than that!

И так, если вы путешествуете по Кыргызстану, это стоит того, чтобы попробовать  что-нибудь из этого списка, хотя бы разочек. На первый взгляд они могут показаться немного странными по вкусу для иностранца, но я уверена, что что-нибудь вам однозначно понравится. Я бы порекомендовала начать с каймака, а потом попробовать или курут или кымыз. Плюс ко всему, сказав, что вы попробовали «ВСЁ» очень обрадует любого Кыргызстанца.